Various Artists

Top of the Pops, Vol. 66

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By mid-1978, punk and the new wave were so much a part of the British chart scene that even arch-ironists no longer raised a quizzical eyebrow at the sight of such things on a Top of the Pops album. Modern collectors are less blasé -- the presence on Vol. 66 of the latest hits by Patti Smith, the Boomtown Rats, and Blondie gives this album considerable kudos among the cognoscenti, and the fact that all three are enacted with at least a taste of the originals' spit 'n' vinegar only adds to the cache. There's also an enjoyable stab at '50s revivalists Darts' hyper-catchy "The Boy from New York City," while anyone who enjoyed Vol. 65's version of the Scottish soccer team's World Cup anthem "Ally's Tartan Army" will be equally enthralled by "Ole Ola," an exuberant Rod Stewart's similarly themed contribution to the madness. Oddly, Stewart himself has done his level best to ignore this song when Greatest Hits time rolls around again (and again and again), but its presence here proves that "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy" wasn't even scraping halfway down the barrel. Unfortunately, the remainder of the album reminds listeners just what a pretty pickle the U.K. charts were in at that time. Disco continued to dominate the listings, with both the Bee Gees and little brother Andy Gibb heading a roster that is quite staggering in its ordinariness. No less than four songs here pack the Gibb imprimatur, and -- it must be confessed -- they're not a patch on the originals.

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